Multiple drone attacks across Iran have been reported, with sources claiming that the targets included drone manufacturing facilities, ammunition plants, fuel depots and training/testing grounds.
According to local Telegram channels, one of the facilities on fire is the “enterprise that assembles the Shahed-131 and Shahed-136 drones”.
Explosions were reported near Hamedan, Isfahan, Karaj, Tabriz and Tehran, with indications that air defenses were activated.
Local Telegram channels attributed the “sophisticated attacks” to Israel, claiming small drones were launched from another big drone or aircraft which flew on the border of Iran.
Some speculations include the small drones that hit the Isfahan facility were sent from a submarine in the Arabian Gulf.
The Iranian Ministry of Defense has so far downplayed the attacks as unsuccessful micro-drone attacks.
The state-run IRNA news agency posted a statement from the Ministry of Defense saying the attacks only caused minor damage to a rooftop as air defense systems shot down small drones attempting to hit a factory in Isfahan.
“At around 23:30 local time, a workshop in an industrial facility of the Ministry of Defense in Isfahan was unsuccessfully targeted by micro drones, one of which was hit by the facility’s air defense and two others were caught in defense traps and exploded,” the statement said.
“There was minor damage to the roof of the workshop, which, by the grace of God, has not caused any disruption to the operation of the facility,” the ministry added.
Isfahan deputy governor Mohammad Reza Jan-Nesari said there had been “no casualties” from the attack, adding that “the cause of the incident is under investigation”.
Iran and Israel have long been engaged in a shadow war that has included covert attacks on Iranian military facilities and nuclear/explosive specialists in the past.
Israel almost never acknowledge operations carried out by the country’s secret military units or its Mossad intelligence agency.
The U.S., E.U., and other allies have announced a slew of fresh sanctions targeting Iran’s aviation and defense sector for supplying weapons to Russia.
In recent months, Moscow has carried out devastating missile and drone strikes against what Ukraine said were civilian targets as well as critical infrastructure such as energy facilities.
“Iran has now become Russia’s top military backer,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement early January. “Iran must cease its support for Russia’s unprovoked war of aggression in Ukraine, and we will continue to use every tool at our disposal to disrupt and delay these transfers and impose costs on actors engaged in this activity.”